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Duke melds two rats' minds through the internet, Spock may not approve

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
March 1, 2013
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Some would say the internet already lets us share every minute detail of our thoughts, much to our followers' dismay. Duke University isn't deterred by our behavior -- if anything, it just took oversharing literally by connecting two rats' minds in an experiment, first in a lab and ultimately online. Electrodes attached to the brain of a host "encoder" rat in Brazil processed the motor-oriented mental activity for a desired behavior, such as pressing a lever on cue, and converted it into a signal that was then received by a "decoder" rat as far away as Duke's US campus. The majority of the time, the decoder rat performed the same action as the encoder. Researchers also found that rewarding the encoder alongside the decoder created a virtuous loop, as treating the first rat for a job well done focused its attention and improved the signal strength.

We're not sure that Vulcans would endorse this kind of mind meld, though: apart from immediately depriving the decoder rat of self-control, prolonged testing led to the same rodent developing additional sympathetic reactions to the encoder. There's also concerns that the test was too binary and didn't reflect the complexity of the whole brain. All the same, Duke's study is proof enough that we can export brainwaves in a meaningful way.

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